In anticipation of the Yankees upcoming trip to Chicago and in conjunction with the recent retirement of Cubs skipper Lou Pinella, the media has been playing up the idea that Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi might bolt for Chicago after the season is over. While I cannot dismiss the idea as an impossibility, I do think that it is extremely unlikely that Joe leaves New York.
When a player or manager leaves one city for another, it is usually for one of four reasons. Let’s run through them and look at where New York and Chicago place in each category:
1) Money: The most frequent reason for employee movement tends to be that the new city is offering more cash than the old. While the Cubs certainly have the money to offer Joe a competitive contract, I have a hard time believing they can outbid the Yankees for his services. If the Yankees want Joe back, and barring an epic collapse I would assume that they will, their offer is likely to be the largest he receives.
2) Winning: Occasionally, a player or manager will make a move that is not the best financial decision, sacrificing some money for the sake of winning. Once again, the Yankees outrank the Cubs, as the Cubs have shown an inability to translate high payrolls into consistent results. Meanwhile, the Yankees have been contenders for the last 15 seasons, and do not figure to fall back to the pack any time soon.
3) Glory/Legacy: This factor is typically overplayed by fans and the media, with a fine example coming this summer in the Knicks pursuit of LeBron James. One factor Knick fans tried to push was that winning one title in New York would cement LeBron as a New York legend forever. While that may have been true, it did not trump other factors in the eyes of the player. I have heard similar arguments regarding Joe and the Cubs: “If he wins one with the Cubs, he is set for life.” While that may be true, it presupposes that his legacy is important to him. Additionally, winning one in Chicago would be great and would make him a local deity. Winning 4 or 5 in New York would likely get him into the Hall of Fame and give him a larger national profile. If Girardi wants glory, New York is just as likely to provide it as Chicago.
4) Family/Local/Organizational Ties: While Girardi does have strong ties to the Yankee organization, he is an Illinois native who went to school at Northwestern, was drafted by the Cubs, and played in Chicago for 7 seasons in two separate stints. This is the one category where the Cubs beat the Yankees, but I am not certain that it will be enough to trump what the Yankees can offer Joe. Similar concerns were raised about CC Sabathia and the West Coast as well as Mark Teixeira and the Baltimore area, and in both cases the money and winning in New York was the deciding factor. I see no reason for this situation to be any different.